Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2280291-A-Scene-in-a-Bar
Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Mystery · #2280291
Written for a writing exercise hosted by A E Willcox
Exercise notes

UPDATE: Read the revision here:
 A Scene in a Bar, V2  (18+)
A rewrite of the scene
#2280586 by Graywriter

Mortensen shuffled into the Primavera Bar and leaned on the door frame to rest. Worry gnawed at his belly and writhed in his mind as he peered around.

It was a yuppie sort of place, the kind his grand-daughter might have liked: brightly lit with emerald wall sconces shaped like seashells and hanging lights of variegated green crystals over each table; comfortable beige upholstered chairs; round tables like lime frisbees on twisted poles; modern art on the walls that looked to him like snot smeared on canvas. Please God, may they have seen my Sandy.

Heaving himself away from the door, he plodded to a seat at the bar and eased up onto the chair with a sigh, like a piece of old farm machinery chugging into the barn and wheezing to a stop.

Although it was half-full, the bar was surprisingly quiet. Patrons at the tables shared murmured secrets or sorrows over their drinks. The basketball game on the TV was muted. At the far end of the bar, waitresses muttered drink orders to the bartender over the electronic chirps of the till. The hum of traffic outside and the whisper of overhead fans emphasized the silence. The old man relaxed, reveling in the quiet, and hoped that he would learn something about his missing grand-daughter, Sandra.

A basset hound of a man, Mortensen had sagging jowls, a pendulous bottom lip, dark bags under sleepy, watery brown eyes with droopy lids, and wispy, lifeless grey hair that struggled vainly to cover a balding scalp. Even his ears were large, with floppy, swaying lobes. His brown summer suit jacket hung baggy and slack from sloping shoulders; the creaseless trousers puddled in waves above his scuffed shoes.

The bartender--the man he'd come to talk to--was stocky and muscular, approaching middle age but well-preserved. Wavy dark hair and a fu-manchu moustache sandwiched narrowed black eyes. From a distance, Mortensen thought his eyes looked mean. Would Sandy have liked him? Oh, I hope not.

Since his target was busy at the till at the far end of the bar, Mortenson eased his sore feet onto the stool's foot-rest and prepared to wait. Waiting was something he'd learned to do well.

Eventually, the bartender came over. "What'll it be, old timer?"

Oh, yes, definitely mean, beady eyes. Mortensen cleared his throat. The name stitched onto the man's apron read 'Lukas'. "Well, Lukas, I'm hoping to talk with you a bit."

"This is a bar, buddy, not a radio talk show. What're you drinking?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. Yes. Uh, beer, please. Bud Light."

The bartender stooped into a fridge under the bar, popped the top off the bottle, and set it onto the tiled bar. He added a glass as an afterthought.

"Eight bucks."

Oh, my, that much? How could Sandy have afforded this? Mortensen fondled a ten out of his wallet and held it up. The barman snatched it and walked off, apparently considering the two dollars change an obligatory tip.

Mortensen sipped his beer, mourning the loss of his change, but enjoying the hiss of bubbles, the froth against his lip, the sour tang on his tongue, the refreshing coolness in his throat. Perhaps I should do this more often. Once or twice a year, maybe. Just to get out a bit. Perhaps Sandra is right, I'm an old stick-in-the-mud.

The bartender was flirting with the bar girls when not running the till, but he finally came over when Mortensen's glass was nearing empty.


"Yes, thank you. But, please, I'm sorry to bother you; I can see that you're a busy man. I do apologize for taking up your time--"

"'I'm sorry.' 'I apologize.' Fuck, you are a real sad sack. You're depressing just to be around."

"I know, it's true. Lugubrious, that's what I am. Isn't that a beautiful word, lugubrious?"

"A fuckin' flake, that's what you are. You want another beer or not?

"Yes, thank you. But please, I don't mean to bother you, it's, well, I just need a little of your time, just a couple of questions."

"You got questions, you ask Alexa. I ain't no fuckin' search engine." He opened another bottle, slammed it onto the bar, and held out his hand for money.

"Please, I know it's an imposition, really I do, but I just have to ask. You may have knowledge of something, I know it won't be important to you but, you see, it's terribly important to me. Did a young woman come in two nights ago, and maybe leave with a man? She's my grand-daughter, and she lives with me, but she hasn't come home. It's been two nights now. I'm so worried that something bad may have happened to her."

Lukas laughed. "A young woman comes in here, and she leaves with a guy, and she don't show up at home? Buddy, that movie plays here a few times a night, all week long. It's called Getting Lucky.

"You owe me eight bucks. Pay up."

"I'm so sorry. It's my fault. I was far too vague. Of course, girls come in and leave with men. That's life. I'm not as old as I look, and I do understand that these things happen. Here's her photo. This is my grand-daughter, Sandy. Isn’t she beautiful? Please just look and tell me if you've seen her."

The bartender slapped the photo unseen onto the bar and took the lapel of Mortensen's jacket, caressing it as though considering tearing it off. "Listen, Buster, and listen good. Unless you got a subpoena, I don't blab about my customers.” He pulled on the lapel, drawing Mortensen almost nose to nose. “Would you like it if some pervert came in asking if I'd seen you in here and you didn't want it known? On second thought, I don't like you, and I'd tell everything I know. Now pay up, drink your beer, and get lost. Or just fuck off, I don't give a shit." He released the lapel and Mortensen recovered his balance by pressing on the bar.

"Of course. I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to upset you. I just don't know how to approach people. I guess I rub them the wrong way." He fumbled a twenty out of his wallet and handed it to Lukas, mentally kissing it goodbye and expecting to never see his change. He straightened his clothes and huddled over his beer. Oh, dear, why is so he angry? I must have said something to upset him. Was Sandy here and he’s angry that I asked about her? Now what will I do? Whatever will I do?

He looked over to the back corner of the bar, where a waitress was taking a break. She was hunched over and rubbing her temples. Ah, do I know from migraines, poor thing. Perhaps she can help. He picked up his beer, eased off the bar stool, and trudged towards the corner.

© Copyright 2022 Graywriter (graywriter at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2280291-A-Scene-in-a-Bar